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Know Your Worth: How to Negotiate as an Influencer

What is Influencer Marketing

Compared to other industries, influencer marketing is flawed by its infancy. It’s a young industry, which makes it critical to clearly define what influencer marketing means before assessing your value as a part of it.  

At its core, influencer marketing involves a brand collaborating with a social media influencer to market a product or service. Of course, this transaction consists of an exchange of currency, which should mirror the impact of your work and the following of your network.

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Setting Goals and Connecting with Brands

Goal setting is where influencer planning should begin. Take the necessary time to understand what type of influencer you are and where your skill set is most valuable. This will make understanding your value and pitching to brands a much simpler process.

There are levels to influencer marketing–tiers that ultimately define potential impact and outline the metric you’ll use to calculate your rate. Let’s identify the different types of influencers by follower count:

Types of Influencers

  • Nano influencer: less than 1,000 followers - small number of followers but influencers boasts concentrated leverage in small communities.
  • Micro influencer: 1,000 to 100,000 followers - substantial influence focused on niche topics and are considered specialists.
  • Macro influencer: 100,000 to 1,000,000 followers - gained a following from the internet itself like vlogging, YouTube, or video creation.
  • Mega influencer: more than 1,000,000 followers - they are more famous than influential. Their follower base interest varies. They aren’t subject experts just can get brands a lot of reach.

Create Your Media Kit

Brands aren’t always going to reach out and offer you piles of money for your influence. More often than not, you’ll need to create a dialogue with brands yourself (unless you have a manager to do that work for you). For this, you’ll need a media kit to share with brands and businesses.

Outside of outlining your portfolio and showcasing your brand aesthetic, a media kit essentially shows potential partners you’re serious about your work. It's visual proof that you are a professional and worthy of their time and investment.

Think of your media kit as your business card or your resume; it’s how you introduce yourself to anyone interested in you as an influencer. Brands will often ask for a media kit after the initial point of contact. So make sure you have yours ready!

That said, let’s break down what potential partners should be able to find in your media kit:

Bio - Approach this as the ‘About Me’ section of your media kit. Here, you’ll want to sell yourself to the brand or company you hope to partner with. Dive into your content niche and your goals as a content creator. Be sure to make it personal so that you stand out!

Platform Overview  - Outline your follower and subscriber count across all channels alongside your average engagement rate for each social media outlet. Include monthly average page views or unique visitors per month for websites/blogs and all supporting digital mediums.

Audience Demographics - Share the specifics of your audience makeup. Brands are looking to see if your audience matches their brand demographics so that they can leverage your following. If your demographics differ across social media channels, be sure to specify.

Previous Campaigns & Results - Your media kit can double as your portfolio. Preview your previous collaborations and partnerships and make sure to provide campaign metrics so brands can gauge the level of success.

Good Design - Make sure it’s visually appealing and looks professional! This might be a brand’s first impression of your work. Design it to fit your overall brand aesthetic.

How to Contact Brands

Once your media kit is in a good place, you’ll need to shift to the next phase of your plan: contacting brands. A good rule of thumb is approaching this process the same way you would when applying for traditional work opportunities; reach out to a few very attainable options, a couple of challenging ones, and at least one very aspirational partnership opportunity. You never know who wants to work with you unless you ask!

When choosing partners, go with what you know. Pick and choose brands that you love and are familiar with. That passion will shine through in your communication. So whether you choose to send that prospective brand partner an email or feel comfortable enough to slide them a DM, make it clear in your communication that you love the brand and know about their products or services.

Be sure to include content ideas and potential captions. It’ll help the brand visualize the collaboration and gain some insight into your content strategy. Don’t give them everything; just a teaser that will help them wrap their head around the possibilities surrounding your expertise.

Pro-tip: If pitching isn’t your strong suit, think about tapping one of the many influencer agencies to help you find opportunities. RewardStyle is a great option!

How to Negotiate Your Worth

Among the most important things an influencer can do is understanding their worth. Don’t depend on brands or business partners to outline that for you. It’s up to you to know how much you should earn and why. That way, you knowingly never accept less than you should.

For starters, you’ll need to know the contributing factors that go into calculating your influencer rate. Take a look below:

How to Negotiate Your Rate

Distribution Fee - how much it will cost for you to feature brands on your social channel and is determined by the following:

  • Follower Count - You can charge more based on how many followers you have. Brands are looking for exposure, so leverage how big your reach is.
  • Engagement Rate - Is calculated by the number of likes and comments divided by your followers [(Likes + Comments) / Followers]. The higher your engagement, the better. Advertisers and brands will look at your latest posts to ensure that all your posts generate the same type of engagement, and you still have a lively community. Note: PLANOLY’s Analyze Dashboard is a great place to keep track of performance metrics.
  • Notoriety/ Well-known / Recognizable - Do followers know you outside of your follower channel? If you were featured on a brand’s Instagram would viewers know who you are?
  • Demographics - Is your follower base exactly who they’re looking for? If so, you can deliver, and your value increases.
  • Additional Usage - Is the content you’re creating getting recycled to their other channels? If so, make sure you’re being compensated to accommodate your content reach and/or likeness.

The Ins and Outs of Negotiating

Whenever you’re negotiating for pay or compensation, it’s important to seek maximum value. This isn’t only true because you should be paid what you deserve, but because your rate also sets the market for other influencers. When you demand to be paid what you’re worth, it makes it much harder for brands or businesses to shortchange others.

Black and Brown influencers are being paid less than their white counterparts. Sadly, this also rings true where sexism is concerned, as women in the industry receive less compensation than male influencers. And while this pay gap is both systemic or patriarchal, for the influencer marketing industry to evolve into the equitable space it should be, holding firms to your value, advocating for minorities in the industry, and ultimately asserting the power influencers possess is critical for this change to take place.

There are online resources available to influencers to ensure brands aren’t undercutting them for their services. @Influencerpaygap is an Instagram service that helps guide influencers through the negotiation process – especially minority influencers new to navigating the space. The many unknowns of influencer marketing can be daunting such as measuring the worth of in-feed posts, Stories, video content, the potential of in-person events, and even product partnerships. Moreover, asking for talent fees to facilitate these content goals.

Talent fees are what it will cost to create your content, including your hourly rate. You must determine this cost and factor it into your contract before creating your content. For example, talent fees pay for you to hire a photographer or an editor, rent out studio space, or gather accessories/props that you will need to create the best possible content.

How to Ask for Talent Fees:

Be upfront with the brand you’re working with about how much goes into making your content. Include a timesheet with an hourly breakdown of your work and all that went into it. This is a professional and transparent practice that the brand will appreciate.

Example timesheet:

  • Conceptualizing post/shoot (1 hr)
  • Researching studios and places to shoot (2hr)
  • Time it takes to shoot the content (6 hr)

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Maintaining Your Brand Value & Best Practices

Now that you’ve found a brand partner and negotiated your desired rate, the fun part can begin – content creation. This is where you get back to your goals as a creator and produce something you love and your partner will love, too.

Be as authentic as possible. Remember, brands want you because of who you are and what you do. They don’t need you to do what they can do themselves. Your individuality got you here; lean into it. Create the type of work that will turn one brand post into a full-blown relationship. Challenge yourself to be better and long-term success will follow.

Knowing your brand, identifying your niche, and creating with authenticity will help you stand out in a crowded marketplace. More than that, know your industry in and out. Read up on affiliate marketing, research the brands that want to partner with you, talk to other influencers and share tips, and follow the rules laid out in the contract you negotiated.

That said, follow all the guidelines set by your brand partner and the social media platforms where your content will live. Be sure to disclose if your content is in fact, an ad, tag all brands/parties involved, and be sure to comply with all FTC guidelines.

Influencer marketing is only going to continue to grow. The industry is outpacing nearly all of its counterparts, which means new opportunities will only continue to flow your way. Be sure you’re prepared and understand the nuance of negotiating your worth!

Download our influencer marketing guide complete with a media kit checklist and must-have negotiation tips!


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Darren Griffin

Darren Griffin was a contributing Senior Writer at PLANOLY. His expertise includes culture, fashion, and social media marketing.

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